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Lee County Sheriff’s Office makes arrest in 1985 homicide

By Staff | Dec 10, 2008

Investigators with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit have arrested and charged a man in connection with a homicide that occurred 23 years ago.
Harvey Skrine, 50, was picked up in the area of Lincoln Boulevard and Wright Street in Fort Myers by the LCSO Fugitive Warrants Unit at approximately 12:15 a.m. Wednesday.
On April 21, 1985, at approximately 10:30 a.m., the sheriff’s office began an investigation regarding the discovery of two bodies.
A naked black female with her hands bound behind her back was found in the street at the intersection of Acroft Avenue and Burr Street. The second body, discovered approximately five blocks away just off the roadway, was a naked black male. Both victims reportedly had been run over by a vehicle.
Shortly after the discovery, a 1975 Cadillac was discovered abandoned along the shoulder of the road on the north side of the west bound lane of State Road 82, approximately one-quarter mile from the intersection of Buckingham Road. The car reportedly had blood, hair and fresh remnants covering its undercarriage and right side.
A subsequent investigation revealed the female was Joyce Ann Hayes, then 29, and Walter Mitchell, then 50.
Acting on a tip, investigators zeroed in on Skrine. According to reports, Skrine admitted to being with Mitchell hours before the homicide but denied any involvement.
A subsequent examination of Skrine’s T-shirt revealed that the shirt was reportedly speckled, front and back, with blood. It was found to be the same blood type as that of Hayes, authorities said. Though they had suspicions, investigators at the time lacked conclusive evidence.
In April, cold case investigators were able to track down relatives of Hayes for the purpose of creating a DNA profile. The swabs and T-shirt of Skrine were sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s crime lab. Officials said the blood speckled on the T-shirt matched the DNA profile of Hayes.
Considering the evidence, as well as statements made by Skrine and the DNA match to Hayes, cold case investigators charged Skrine with second-degree murder in the death of Hayes. Investigators suspect Skrine also is responsible for the death of Mitchell, and they continue to work on that part of the case.
This is the seventh case to be solved by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit, which was formed four years ago. Investigators continue to work on the roughly 50 cases that remain.
If you have any information on the deaths of Hayes or Mitchell, call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 800-780-TIPS (8477).